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Former ESPN President John Skipper Lands New Job

Jason Barrett

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John Skipper resigned from his position as president of ESPN last December, citing a years-long “substance addiction” as his reasoning. Two months after ESPN hired James Pitaro as their new president, Skipper has resurfaced to join Perform Group, as Executive Chairman of the global sports media company.

Perform Group is based in the UK, founder Simon Denyer will continue as the company’s CEO in London, with Skipper’s role allowing him to remain in New York.

“Simon and his team have built an enormously impressive company, providing an excellent base to establish a global leadership position in the over-the-top sports subscription business, the clear future of sports delivery,” said John Skipper, Executive Chairman Perform Group. “Perform Group’s platform and expertise, coupled with its success in launching subscription services in Germany, Japan and Canada provides a model we intend to replicate around the world.”

Skipper left ESPN during a crucial time, when the company was dealing with a ratings decline, sexual harassment allegations (not about Skipper, who had just prior signed an extension to remain with the network) and awaiting the launch of their new OTT platform.

Since Skipper’s departure ESPN has undergone programming changes including the cancellation of SC6. Under James Pitaro, ESPN also followed through on projects that began with Skipper at the helm, including Mike Greenberg’s new morning show, Get Up, and the launch of their direct-to-consumer subscription service ESPN+. Perform Group has an OTT sports streaming service of their own called DAZN.

In his new position with Perform Group, Skipper will oversee all operations and strategy of the company and report to the Board, but it would make sense for the former ESPN president to have a focus on growing DAZN.

“Perform is rapidly expanding its role in sports media with significant investments in the best content and our own platform. We are now preparing to push forward with the expansion of DAZN, our live and on-demand streaming service, in more major markets around the world,” said Simon Denyer, CEO Perform Group. “DAZN is revolutionizing how fans watch their favorite sports. John is one of the most significant leaders in the history of our industry, and I am delighted that he has agreed to join me and the team to help take Perform to the next level of our ambitions.”

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

ACC Network Expands Women’s Basketball, Baseball Tournament Coverage

A report from Michael Smith of Sports Business Journal says ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips was the driving force in the move to ACC Network.

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ESPN and Raycom have struck a deal to make ACC Network the television home of the women’s basketball and baseball tournaments, beginning with the 2023 season.

A report from Michael Smith of Sports Business Journal says ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips was the driving force in the move to ACC Network. Previously, the championship events had been distributed on Bally Sports South, which confused viewers.

“We are thrilled. This is a significant moment that will enhance these premier events and provide much-needed access to our fans,” Phillips said. “We appreciate ESPN, Raycom Sports, and Bally for mutually agreeing to make this happen.”

ESPN or ESPN2 will continue to carry the championship games for both the women’s basketball and baseball tournaments.

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Sports TV News

Michael McCarthy: Craig Carton Will Debut On FS1 Within Month, Nick Wright Not Leaving

“That doesn’t mean viewers should expect Wright to be Craig Carton’s partner on television.”

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Michael McCarthy is the guest this week on The Jason Barrett Podcast. The Front Office Sports scribe is plugged into what is happening at FOX, and Barrett asked him to shed some light on the morning situation at FS1.

Jenna Wolfe recently announced her departure from First Things First. It is widely assumed that it is the first of many changes on the show to make way for WFAN’s Craig Carton, who will be starting his own morning show for the company.

“I think that Carton’s gonna get on the air literally within the next month,” McCarthy said. “I think the Jenna Wolfe move was the first in re-casting. It wouldn’t really surprise me to see some of the people from First Things First pop up on other shows.”

There is bound to be speculation about who is and isn’t safe amongst the First Things First cast. Michael McCarthy said one name no one needs to be worried about is Nick Wright.

McCarthy says he has been told by multiple people that FOX is high on Wright and has big plans for him.

“They think of him as the next Skip, the next Cowherd. So I think if anyone is sitting in a position to either of those talents at FOX, it’s Nick Wright. That’s how highly they think about him.”

That doesn’t mean viewers should expect Wright to be Craig Carton’s partner on television. McCarthy, who is a New Yorker, knows that not everyone is capable of being a good partner to the WFAN afternoon host. Not only is Nick Wright likely not a good fit for the role, but McCarthy couldn’t say who currently on the FOX payroll is.

“You really have to be secondary to [Carton’s] personality. He’s the show. So if you’re an Acho or a Marcellus or something like that, used to being the show, and you get together with a Carton, Carton’s gonna try and dominate the show. There could be a real clash of egos there.”

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Sports TV News

The Stephen A. Smith Memoir Release Date Set for January

“Due to my fixation on privacy pertaining to my personal life, it took a lot of time, and a lot of prodding by loved ones, to finally get me to do this,” he said.

Jordan Bondurant

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Stephen A. Smith

It’s taken some time, but ESPN First Take host Stephen A. Smith is releasing a memoir at the start of next year.

Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes will focus on Stephen A.’s upbringing, journalism career and the challenges he’s endured on his path to stardom.

Smith said that in order for the book to come to light, he had to do some convincing of his family members.

“Due to my fixation on privacy pertaining to my personal life, it took a lot of time, and a lot of prodding by loved ones, to finally get me to do this,” he said.

Even after some coaxing, Smith said there will be no sugarcoating in his book.

“But as I once told my mom, ‘If I’m going to write a book, I’ll be damned if I’m holding back. I’m going to speak my truth, say what I have to say, just so everyone knows where I stand and why,’” he said. “I know I’ve done that in this book. I had to do so eventually. It was time. No matter the consequences.”

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